August 14, 2006

The new Segway.

All the wires and machinery have been removed from the top. To tell you the truth, I'd love to have one of these things for getting around Madison, even though I think it might be embarrassing. Would it look too ridiculous? Can they handle the snow and ice? But do you really think think the fear of looking dorky is the real reason these things haven't caught on? They're just too expensive! Segway, Inc. missed its chance to be a big sensation because people who would have risked riding one just couldn't bring themselves to pay $5,000 to see how it would work.

Bonus advice to Segway: Give a hundred of them away to bloggers.

33 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

NASTY on ICE!

Trust me

AJ Lynch said...

So you are essentially saying what? That bloggers are dorks so they won't care if the Segway amplifies their dork quotient.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

drill: There's a new all-terrain one...

aj: I just think bloggers could provide good publicity (or not) but we don't want to lay out $5000. Even just to have a test one temporarily would be nice.

Looking at the pictures on their website again, I'm simply overwhelmed by how stupid they look. It's mind-boggling how something can be both so cool and so uncool.

Elizabeth said...

A tour company uses these for tours around the French Quarter and other historical sections. But it's really expensive, like $75 for a couple of hours! It's fun, though, to see a line of them rolling off the ferry and onto the river levee.

Art said...

Bush tried one and fell down.

Your joke goes here.

John said...

I don't know whose a dork and who isn't a dork, but I know anybody on one of these things is a dork.

If any of my friends got one of these (I'm mid 30's, professional), the rest of us would mock him mercilessly.

Besides, I still can't get a get out of my mind that this is anything more than a hugely expensive bike.

Just when the heck would most people use one? From home to work? Too hot/cold/wet/far.

To go to the store? How do I carry groceries for a family of five?

Golfing? Where do my clubs go?

A night on the town/date? Snicker.

They created a product to fill a market that does not exist.

Elizabeth said...

Art, I don't like the guy, but I've gotten past the age where I can laugh at a "fall down, go boom" moment, even when it's very tempting. Maybe I'm superstitious and just don't want to slip on a banana peel after having a good laugh at his expense.

Royce said...

Ann,

Walk.

Or... get yourself a nice spinal cord injury and the State of Wisconsin will buy you a sit-down equivalent.

Royce

Finn Kristiansen said...

They created a product to fill a market that does not exist.

That is probably untrue. They just advertised to the wrong market.

The Segway is not ideal for the average person until they can get the price down to around $400 to 1000 or so.

However, some municipalities are finding ways to use them, whether in airports or by police and meter-readers. Someone mentioned tour companies as well. Many places that offered bikes or cycles in the past, for touring, will probably end up adding Segways (if theft deterrent mechanisms are installed).

I would imagine they would be handy even shuttling around corporate campuses or warehouses, provided one is not carrying extra items.

They just have to keep refining the product to force down production costs, or absorb short term losses on price to build a mass market.

Bissage said...

This celebrity endorsement might not have helped much.

I’m all for progress. Still, the old HT had a lot going for it.

Joe said...

If you want to get around town quickly and cheaply, why not get a Vespa? Anyone looks cool on a Vespa. Get a flame paint job and even bikers will give you a thumbs up.

sparky said...

i think fear of well, fear itself, keeps people off these things. that, or those dagnab head injuries....

maybe the problem is that we just don't like two wheels in that configuration. you're missing half of the little red wagon.

bikes: kool. segways: not so much.

charlotte said...

Segway/segue is a dweebish, transitional feeling name and it looks like an old-fashioned manual push mower. Moving between points is not nearly as interesting as getting to where you want to go, so call it the Culminator and add speed, noise, color, fins, windshield, sunroof, luggage rack, beverage holders, a cool helmet and CD/PC ports. Drug Brad Pitt and snap photos of him on one in LA, or Ann Althouse going 'round campus and coffeehouses in Madison.

Tibore said...

"All the wires and machinery have been removed from the top..."

... and yet, it's still the dorkiest ride around.

"Would it look too ridiculous? Can they handle the snow and ice?"

"Yes", and "Even if it could, you'd never catch me on one".

"But do you really think think the fear of looking dorky is the real reason these things haven't caught on?"

Nope. It's the fear of being dorky, not just looking it.

Cure for the Segway rider: The clothesline from pro wrestling. See, you can't pull that move on a car driver, now can ya?...

Pat Patterson said...

Ann; Didn't you have some comments about guys with ponytails, beards and recumbent bicycles a while ago? I think that Law professors and Segways might fit neatly into that maligned category.

vnjagvet said...

One of the best comment threads of all time!!!!!

And the word verification is.....

aswqx

....or what happens with a Segway wipeout.

(just substitute an a for the q)

The Drill SGT said...

Ann Althouse said...
drill: There's a new all-terrain one...


Ann, I have driven a Segway quite a bit. My company has one we use for promotions. I have also seen it work on ice. It won't. It balances based on torque from the driven wheels to the ground. Ice=no friction= no torque=you fall on your face.

Your all terrain Segway has big tires to climb ruts across country. It won't help much on ice. You'll just fall on your face after 10 feet instead of 1 foot.

Jonathan said...

-Slower and much more expensive than a bicycle.

-No exercise benefit.

-Dangerous to pedestrians on sidewalks yet too slow for riding in street traffic.

-Fast enough and tall enough to create significant injury potential for the rider.

-You have to put it somewhere when you reach your destination. However, it's too valuable to leave unlocked or casually locked, and too heavy to carry up the stairs like a bike.


These limitations make it a difficult sell for the kinds of around-town casual use that are shown in the promo video. OTOH the machine seems to be useful in specialized niches: police and other municipal work forces, warehouses, factories, urban tour companies, etc. I suspect the fleet buyers are paying much less than $5k per unit.

If they want to sell a lot of these to individuals they should cut the price.

The commenter who mentioned ponytails is on to something. One of the Segway riders in the video was a grey-haired guy with a beard. He looked just like a recumbent bike rider.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Just one of five
modes of transportation that will help assure you never, ever get laid
.

quietnorth said...

Just keep state legislators from forcing local governments to allow them onto bike paths.

Jeff said...

Oh, hell Susan. I ride an recumbent. OTOH, I also ride a Harley.

bill said...

I think the main problem with the Segway is with the markets they pursued. As others have said for an industrial/warehouse application it's perfect. Security use in getting around large areas, like an airport or a downtown area--also good. I just don't see it as a mass transportation device. Too big, too slow, and as a bicyclist it also pissed me off that Kamen tried to get laws changed to make it legal to ride the Segway on sidewalks. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Bicycles belong in the street. Motorized vehicles, like Segways belong in the street. A Segway is a hazard for anyone walking. Imagine a busy New York sidewalk. Now imagine all those people riding a Segway. I'm seeing larger machines taking up more space and an even bigger human logjam. I don't think any problem has been solved.

Interesting that Joe mentioned Vespa. I've been looking into the practibility of a scooter for my 30 mile commute. Once you get above the moped stage, there are some impressive little machines (anything over 50cc requires a motorcycle license). Starting around $3000 you can get a 150 cc scooter with a top speed of 60-70 mph that gets 60-90 mpg. For a bit more, you get even more power. And don't be mesmerized by the Vespa name made in India, not Italy). They're expensive and not that dependable. A comparable Kymco (made in Taiwan and they've made Honda motors for decades) is about $1000 cheaper than a Vespa and looks to be the standard for quality. They don't have that cute retro look, but they'll run. Probably not on ice, though.

You want something that'll run on ice? Get a mountain bike and equip it with studded tires.

knoxgirl said...

bissage: LMAO! Goodness, I forgot all about Gob riding the segway, and thanks for the reminder. I've got to get that show on dvd.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnK said...

Anne,

Just by a motorcycle. They are so much more fun and so much cooler. I remember there was this awful ad for some software company showing this nerd riding to work on his Segway. The point of the ad was that this company was "Generation D" as in the new digital generation that was going to change your business. All I could do is look at that guy on his Segway and think "Generation Dork". Unless you work in a large warehouse and have a reason to own one, Segways have to be one of the most annoying inventions of all time

yetanotherjohn said...

I think a bigger issue with them is the imposed height. It's like riding around in a pulpit. They need to seel them either to short people (who with the added height would be "normal" height) or meglamaniacs who are constantly rehearsing their "now that I rule the world" speech in their mind.

Kev said...

The new town center in my neighborhood has a Segway that one of its security guards uses to ride around the place. I'm sure it saves shoe leather and reduces foot problems for the guard, plus he can cover a lot of territory pretty quickly, and the young kids all think it's cool when he passes by. The sidewalks are wide enough that I can't imagine there being an issue of him running into a customer.

But for the general public, as a regular mode of transportation? Nah, I'm not seeing it.

David said...

If they could get rid of the handlebar and stem, so that it was just a platform between two wheels, it might be a little cool.

Pat Patterson said...

I grew up in the 50's and 60's and I'm still waiting for my personal rocket pack. The prospect of teenagers in the sky does feel me with apprenhension, maybe less so than the possibility of an Ipod and cell phone using teenager riding a Segway on the sidewalk.

I showed a picture of a man on a Segway to a group of my high school freshmen who then proceeded to teach me all sorts of wonderful(and not for print) phrases in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese for "middle-aged white guy on Segway".

luagha said...

My mother, who is retured, has had some foot problems and some operations. Now that she and my father are in the stage where it's reasonable for them to want to travel the world and see the sights, she has a hard time doing things like walking for over a mile, or doing long slow walks in beautiful museums and such things.

She's not an invalid, she's not crippled. But it would seem that this would be just the thing for her to take on vacations in dense countries where one walks from fabulous tourist site to fabulous tourist site. Pity I can't get her to ever try one.

knoxgirl said...

Sippican: Gob is a character on the now-defunct FOX show Arrested Development. You would love it, get ahold of a dvd ASAP!

Loved the Squidword reference by the way. My son is only 11 months but I still use him as an excuse to watch Spongebob.